Bay Area backslides on CDC COVID map, extending many mask mandates – SFGate

As of Wednesday morning, there are no Bay Area counties in the moderate tier. The seven Bay Area counties still enforcing an indoor mask mandate for all individuals regardless of vaccination status will not lift the mandates until they remain in the moderate tier for three weeks straight, have “low and stable” hospitalizations and over 80% of its total population is fully vaccinated.

Marin County, which is now back in the substantial tier, met all three requirements last week and dropped its mask mandate Monday. County Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis has said that a case increase alone will not bring back the mandate, and county officials will watch hospitalization numbers instead. 

In addition, two Bay Area counties — Sonoma and Solano — have now been placed in the “high” (red) tier. Solano County is the one county that did not re-impose an indoor mask mandate, with county Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas stating at the time, “Our cases are very clearly not occurring in public places. They’re occurring in people’s homes, at parties, barbecues, picnics, camping events and so issuing a mask mandate in the indoor public space environment isn’t going to change that.”

After the highly vaccinated region saw a backslide on the CDC map, UCSF’s Dr. Monica Gandhi, a leading expert on the pandemic, took to Twitter to deride the CDC framework, which she characterized as “outdated.”

“A highly vaccinated place will always be at risk of being in these ‘tiers’ due to the outdated definition of the CDC’s metrics of community spread,” she wrote.

She notes that the map is based on case rates and test positivity, but writes, “those metrics only made sense when mass asymptomatic testing was occurring prior to vaccination.” “After vaccination, per the CDC guidance, only those with exposures or symptoms should test so tests are likely to reveal positive cases, which is not a good measure of community transmission or spread,” Gandhi said.

“So, if CDC doesn’t change this definition of community spread after vax, highly vax’d places (most likely to follow CDC) will be masking forever with this artifactual metric,” she concluded.

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